Residents have raised objections to the proposed development at town halls. Now they may vote on it.
The roundabout joining Highway 12 and State Route 113 in Rio Vista, just south of the site for a proposed new city of 400,000 people. Kiddo27 / Wikimedia Commons C.C. Share-Alike 4.0 License
The corporation founded by Silicon Valley billionaires and led by a 36-year-old, Czech-born former Wall Street prodigy said it would submit a ballot initiative seeking approval for its plan to build a completely new city of 400,000 people on open land in Solano County, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.
The ballot measure is required because the project as planned would require the county to waive its Orderly Growth ordinance—a law that mandates any new development to take place only inside Solano County’s seven incorporated cities.
California Forever, the once-mysterious company that bought about nearly 60,000 acres in the county from 2018 to 2023—much of it adjacent to Travis Air Force Base—said that its initial plans will cover only about one-third of the land it now owns. The massive development will sit, the company says, between the Air Force base and Rio Vista, a small city with a population just over 10,000.
The currently nameless, proposed new city will spread across both sides of State Highway 113, just north of the roundabout now joining that road with Highway 12.
The ballot measure, to be titled The East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative, is required because the project would require the county to waive its Orderly Growth ordinance—a law that mandates any new development to take place only inside Solano County’s seven incorporated cities: Vallejo, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Vacaville, Suisun City, Dixon and Benicia.
The planned new city would be built primarily on currently unincorporated land, a step which requires approval of Solano County voters under the growth ordinance. But first, before any initiative can make it to the November ballot, the company must gather 13,500 signatures from county voters—which could be an uphill battle after largely hostile reactions from local residents at a series of “town hall” meetings staged over recent weeks by California Forever, to pitch its plans.
The company’s CEO is former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek, a native of the Czech Republic who obtained United States citizenship only after his firm started acquiring Solano County land. Sramek planned to announce details of the ballot initiative at a press conference in Rio Vista on Jan. 17.
The company has also promised to create a $400 million fund that would provide assistance to those initial 50,000 residents in making down payments on their homes.
The company says it pledges to create 15,000 new jobs that will pay a minimum 125 percent of average Solano County wages, according to documents it showed to the national political news site Politico. But that may not be enough to placate residents angered by the seemingly clandestine methods the company used to acquire its land.
Residents have also expressed fears over the environmental impacts of the sprawling new development, which would be rolled out in stages, according to the company. The first phase would result in 20,000 new homes for 50,000 residents, built around parks, schools, retail shopping areas and even a public transit system, the company says, according to the Chronicle report.
The company has also promised to create a $400 million fund that would provide assistance to those initial 50,000 residents in making down payments on their homes, according to a report by the Vallejo Times-Herald.
The planned city will be “medium density,” California Forever head of planning Gabriel Metcalf told Politico.
“It’s not traditional suburbia, it’s not Manhattan, it’s in the middle,” Metcalf said.
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